The talent disparity in NFL, like most professional leagues, is razor thin. What separates the great players from the good ones isn’t the tangible attributes; it’s the intangibles, and Drake London displays ones that point toward greatness.
Despite breaking the Falcons’ rookie receptions record and being considered one of the top first-year players in 2022, London isn’t satisfied.
“Decent,” London told ESPN’s Michael Rothstein. “Ain’t nothing more than decent, nothing less than decent.”
The receiver out of USC had a productive first season, finishing with a record 72 receptions, which is especially impressive in a run-heavy offense, for 866 yards — 333 of which came over the last four games with Desmond Ridder as the signal caller. London eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the first time all season, going for 120 yards on six catches in the season finale. What should encourage Falcons fans is Drake London’s growing rapport with Desmond Ridder.
In 13 games with Marcus Mariota throwing him passes, London received 81 targets, hauling in 47 for 533 yards and four touchdowns, good for 11.34 yards per reception. With Ridder, London was targeted 36 times, catching 25 of them for 333 yards, 13.32 yards per catch.
On average, he received six targets per game with Mariota as quarterback compared to nine targets with Ridder under center. Moreover, London had a 69.4% catch percentage with Ridder, compared to 58.7% with Mariota. In every metric, London’s connection with Ridder was much stronger than the one he had with Mariota.
That connection should only grow stronger as the pair gain experience, which is often an overlooked facet of development. Noticing the intricacies of NFL defenses is usually the last part of a player’s evolution, and Drake London picked up on those pre-snap looks early in the season, according to his position coach, T.J. Yates.
London did experience his fair share of struggles, namely the untimely fumbles. But the first-round pick is taking them as learning experiences to be prepared for his big moment, which could be in a Super Bowl.
“Going through the struggles, going through the process, I’d rather this happen to me right now in my first couple years,” London said, via ESPN. “Than say we’re in Year 4, we’re in the Super Bowl and I do that s—. It would be completely terrible.”
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire
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